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Article:Baseball Notebook: Spring Training (3/6/08)

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Alou to Miss Start of Season

Spring training injuries continue to hit the New York Mets with the news that Moises Alou will start the 2008 season on the disabled list. This may be the break that Angel Pagan needs to make the team out of spring training. Pagan has had an excellent spring so far but there was little chance of him making the team.

Cardinals Also Battling Injuries

Albert Pujols has decided to play this season with a high grade tear in his right elbow. He was given the option over the winter of having surgery or continue to play with the injury and he chose to continue to play. If he had chosen the complete reconstruction surgery, he would have missed most of the 2008 season. It will be interesting to see how well he can play with the injury this season. If anything happens to Pujols to cause him to miss a lot of games this season, the Cardinals will really be hurting since it will leave only Troy Glaus as the main power hitter on the team. Chris Duncan can provide some power, but not anywhere close to the power of Pujols.

Mark Mulder will begin the season on the disabled list, and will probably make his first start in May. Chris Carpenter is slated to begin throwing next week, but won't return to the rotation till June if all goes well with his recovery.

Spring Training Games Roundup

Atlanta Braves 4, Cleveland Indians 1
Jair Jurrjens (1-0) pitched three hitless shutout innings in the 4-1 win by the Braves over the Indians. Former Yankee Colter Bean gave up the only Indians hit of the game. Mark Teixeira hit his first home run of the sping. Jurrjens is bidding to win a spot in the starting rotation and if he pitches like he did yesterday during the season the Braves should have a strong staff with Tim Hudson, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Chuck James, and Jurrjens comprising the starting rotation.

Cincinnati Reds 7, Boston Red Sox 6
The Red Sox had 17 hits while the Reds only had 9, but they still came out on the short end of a 7-6 score. Jolbert Cabrera picked up two more runs batted in during the game tying him with Shelley Duncan for the spring training lead with 9 runs batted in each.

Detroit Tigers 4, Pittsburgh Pirates 1
Marcus Thames hit his second home run of the spring to lead the Tigers to a 4-1 win over the Pirates. Worst of all, the Pirates faced five Tiger pitchers with little name recognition with names like Bazardo, Porcello, Lambert, Bobby Seay, who has pitched for six seasons in the majors, but only has a 4-1 record to show for it and Dolsi. If the Pirates have trouble hitting pitchers like this, imagine what they would do against front line pitchers like Jeremy Bonderman or Justin Verlander.

Houston Astros 8, Tampa Bay Rays 4
Jose Cruz Jr., who is trying to become a member of his ninth major league team, led the Astros with three hits and drove in two runs and handed the Rays their first loss of the spring by an 8-4 score.

Detroit Tigers 6, Philadelphia Phillies 2
Justin Verlander (2-0), who has not given up a run this spring, defeated the Phillies 6-2 in a split squad game, with Carlos Guillen hitting his first two home runs of the spring and Magglio Ordonez hitting his first. Pedro Feliz is hitting .412 for the Phillies. The Phillies may have come out on the short end of the deal when the San Francisco Giants signed Aaron Rowand and with Geoff Jenkins as his replacement, but Feliz should make up the difference in offense for the Phillies. In the last four years, Feliz has hit 22-20-22-20 home runs so should be good for at least 20 home runs and should have around 80 runs batted in but he is not known for his average (.252 lifetime) or his on base percentage which is .288 lifetime and has no speed at all with 12 stolen bases in eight seasons with the Giants.

Philadelphia Phillies 6, Toronto Blue Jays 1
Brett Myers (1-0) pitched the Phillies to a 6-1 win against the Blue Jays in his first start of the spring and pitched four innings. Vernon Wells, Frank Thomas, and David Eckstein are a combined 3 for 28 this spring for the Blue Jays.

New York Mets 3, Los Angeles Dodgers 2
Johan Santana allowed one run and 2 hits while striking out 4 in 3 innings, but didn't get the decision, as the Mets scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth in their 3-2 win over the Dodgers. Santana has a 7.20 ERA this spring, but this early in the spring is not much concern to the Mets, especially after his outing yesterday.

Minnesota Twins 7, New York Yankees 5
The Twins overcame a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Yankees yesterday. Shelley Duncan hit his second home run of the spring and drove in his spring training leading ninth run batted in.

Seattle Mariners 6 Los Angeles Angels 5
Erik Bedard (1-0) pitched the Mariners to a 6-5 win over the Angels. Bedard has a 7.20. The biggest surprise of the spring is that Ichiro Suzuki is 0 for 8 this spring, but he hasn't struck out. So as long as he makes contact, he will be all right.

Chicago White Sox 5, Colorado Rockies 2
Alexei Ramirez continues to hammer the ball for the White Sox picking up two more hits yesterday in their 5-2 win over the Rockies. Ramirez is hitting .471, but Paul Konerko has been even more impressive with 10 hits in 14 at bats and hitting at a .714 clip.

Arizona Diamondbacks 5, Chicago Cubs 4
Carlos Zambrano pitched three scoreless innings and hit a home run in their 5-4 loss to the Diamondbacks. Felix Pie was the only Cub regular to play in the contest since most of the regulars had the day off.

Kansas City Royals 5, San Francisco Giants 4
Gil Meche (2-0) defeated the Giants 5-4, as Barry Zito (0-2) took the loss for the Giants. Zito now has a 22.09 ERA for the spring. He pitched 3 and 2/3 innings and given up 9 runs and 9 hits in his first two starts. Hideo Nomo pitched three scoreless innings for the Royals as he has not allowed a run this spring in five innings.

Milwaukee Brewers 12, Texas Rangers 6
Manny Parra pitched the Brewers to a 12-6 win over the Rangers. As good as Parra is pitching he may still have problems making the team since they have eight starters on their depth chart. Ben Sheets, Jeff Suppan, Yovani Gallardo, Carlos Villanueva, and Dave Bush are listed as the first five starters but Suppan has a 9.00 ERA, Gallardo has a knee injury which will keep him out of action till the middle of March. Bush has a 12.60 ERA this spring allowing 7 earned runs and 10 hits in 5 innings.

The other two starters trying to make the team besides Parra are Chris Capuano, with a 9.00 ERA this spring, and Claudio Vargas, with a 5.40 ERA. The Brewers will have to start making moves soon to unclog the logjam of starting pitchers. I look for Capuano to be released or sent to minors since his last good season was 2005 when he was 18-12 and since then in the last two seasons he has been 16-24.

Looks like Parra is ready to move into the starting rotation but the Brewers would probably have to take either Bush or Suppan out of rotation to make room for him in 2008.

Oakland A's 15, San Diego Padres 4
It was a good day for the two Sweeneys in the A's lineup, as Mike Sweeney and Ryan Sweeney combined to drive in 5 runs as the A's pounded out 22 hits in their 15-4 victory over the Padres. Randy Wolf was the losing pitcher for the Padres and left the game with a 40.50 ERA. In two spring starts he has lasted a total of an inning and 1/3 and given up 6 earned runs, 6 hits and 3 walks.

Brooks Conrad continued his hot spring by picking up two more hits and raising his spring average to .533. Wes Bankston also has been hot this spring hitting .625 and driving in 6 runs but Daric Barton, Dan Johnson, and Mike Sweeney are ahead of him at first base. The A's may have some hard decisions soon about whether to keep Sweeney on the roster for opening day and if they do they may have to move Jack Cust to the outfield to get Sweeney some at bats. Sweeney has not caught a game since 1999 and has been used as first baseman or DH all this century. With Daric Barton set at first base the only option is to move Cust to outfield and let Sweeney DH this season.

Sweeney has a history of being injury prone lately and starting with the 2002 season he has not played in more than 126 games since then. However even with him playing in 108 games in 2003 he drove in 83 runs and in 2004 he played only 106 games yet still drove in 79 runs. In his career year of 2000 he hit 29 home runs and drove in 144 runs. He has a career average of .299. After 13 seasons with the Royals, he could really help the A's in 2008 and it would be worth keeping him, even if it means the end of the road for Dan Johnson, who has been given three years by the A's to become the player they hoped he would be but has hit .234 and .236 his last two seasons.

Looking at the Spring Training Standings, the Tampa Bay Rays lead the New York Yankees by half a game in the AL spring training standings with their 4-1 record which gives them the best winning percentage this spring with a .800 mark. The Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays are only teams in AL with losing records with 2-4 and 2-5 records respectively.

In the NL, only the Atlanta Braves, Florida Marlins, New York Mets, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Milwaukee Brewers have winning records this spring with the Braves and Marlins a half game ahead of the Mets. The Pittsburgh Pirates are 1-6, and already 4 games behind the first place Braves and Marlins. In the AL, the Oakland A's have to be encouraged with their 5-2 start since they were not expected to do well this season but a good spring training can get them on the right track for the season.

Spring Training Leaders


Hits- Angel Pagan (12)
Triples - Torii Hunter (2)
Home Runs - 18 different players (2)
Runs Batted In - Jolbert Cabrera, Shelley Duncan (12)
Total Bases - Torii Hunter (19)
Strikeouts - Delwyn Young (10)
Stolen Bases - Joey Gathright (6)
Batting Average (at least 10 AB's) - Torii Hunter (.800)
Extra Base Hits - Torii Hunter 7


Wins - Daniel Barone, Gil Meche, Justin Verlander (2)
Home Runs - J.D. Durbin (4)
Runs - Shawn Estes, Barry Zito (9)
Hits - Joe Blanton, Geoff Geary, Kyle Kendrick (12)
Walks - Noah Lowry (12 in 2 1/3 innings)
Strikeouts - Four tied with 7

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